Q.Marketplace 2010

Several hundred agents descended on the Mile-High City, Jan. 13-14, for Q.Marketplace 2010, the kickoff meeting for the Qwest Business Partner Program.

The theme of the event, held at the swanky Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver, was “Create Your Own Destiny.” Based on QBPP’s 2009 results, which showed an increase in revenues, it seems Qwest partners chose to ignore the memo about the recession.

QBPP’s Blake Wetzel addresses partners for the first time at Q.Marketplace 2010.

While the channel no doubt welcomed this news, Q.Marketplace 2010 was noteworthy for another reason – a chance to hear from QBPP’s new channel chief Blake Wetzel, who took over in mid-August. While many agents already had met Wetzel in the fall, plenty were meeting him for the first time.

Wetzel shared the good news about QBPP’s 2009 results and some of his plans for 2010. His background in ops was evident in his tactical approach to changes he hopes to institute this year. This included the creation of subcommittees on the partner advisory council in order to get agents more involved in identifying and effecting change in the partner program and Qwest Business Markets Group. The event also showed a glimpse of his sense of humor (or at least tolerance) as he played along with the emcee’s jokes (see picture at right).

Wetzel, behind the emcee, gives partners a thumbs up.

Qwest CEO Ed Mueller did not attend the event in person, but he made an appearance via video. He acknowledged QBPP’s role in BMG’s success in 2009. “I understand you are in a unique position with a choice of what telecommunications services you sell and what company you recommend to your customers. On behalf of everyone in the company, I want to thank you for every time that recommendation was Qwest,” Mueller said. “I also understand that to many of your customers, you and your team are Qwest. Please know that we feel the same way.”

Chris Ancell, EVP of BMG, explains Qwest’s 2010 priorities.

Agents also got their first introduction to the new EVP of BMG, Chris Ancell, who laid out BMG’s goals and reiterated partners’ roles in achieving them. Ancell and Wetzel were reading from the same playbook, advocating some basic blocking and tackling such as clarifying and defining roles within QBPP and the partner community to help eliminate duplicated efforts, increase accountability and improve the customer experience.

Atlantic-ACM’s Judy Reed Smith delivered a report card on Qwest’s services.

ATLANTIC-ACM CEO Dr. Judy Reed Smith shared results of the research firm’s recent survey of businesses that gave Qwest BMG top marks in the following categories: SMB Data Value, Enterprise Data Value, Enterprise Voice Value, Network Performance, Provisioning and Installation, Customer Service, Billing and Sales Representatives.

Probably, the most interesting comments came from Neil Cox, Qwest’s executive vice president of product and IT, who discussed the company’s product roadmap. Among the juicy tidbits: Qwest is in the process of rolling out hosted UC service, and it’s conducting internal pilots with its business-class cloud computing and managed video conferencing services.

Neil Cox, product EVP, told partners cloud-based services are a priority.

Interestingly, Cox said Qwest is the guinea pig for the cloud computing and video conferencing offers. That way, he said, the company will be very experienced with the services when they have to go to market with them.

QBPP staff wore shirts emblazoned with their expertise during the product fair.

Breakout sessions and the product fair in the afternoon were followed by an evening cocktail reception and awards dinner, where Qwest named its top-performing partners of 2009.

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